Skip to main content
4 min read

How to Stop Growing Your Business

You’ve launched your own business, worked your socks off and it’s paid off. Things are ticking along nicely, finances are looking strong, your team and customers are happy – you are happy. But… What about world domination? You know, that empire you’re expected to build as an entrepreneur?

Since school, we’re expected to reach for the stars, climb every mountain higher, follow your heart’s desire (name that tune!). But, while dreaming big inspires us to overcome internal doubts and external challenges, what if you’re happy with how things are? What if – dare we say it – you don’t want world domination? But prefer a successful, profitable business that provides financial security, professional satisfaction, but also flexibility around your personal life?

For many, the relentless quest for expansion can lead to burnout, strained relationships and a diminished quality of life. If you find yourself wanting a more balanced life while still maintaining a successful business, it is possible to do the things you love profitably, without expanding your business.

12 ways you can achieve a better work/life balance

1. Set clear priorities
Priorities are a very personal thing. Begin by reflecting on your values and what truly matters to you. Clarify your personal and professional priorities and understand that growth isn’t the only metric of success. Consider what work-life balance means to you and the lifestyle you want to achieve. Once you have a clear vision, you can start aligning your business goals accordingly.

2. Delegate and automate
One of the keys to unlocking more time in your diary for your personal life, is effective delegation. Identify tasks that can be delegated to employees or outsourced to freelancers or agencies. Automate routine processes and invest in technologies that streamline your operations. By sharing responsibilities and reducing your workload, you can create more time for your personal life.

3. Optimise existing operations
Rather than expanding your business, focus on maximising the efficiency of your current operations. Look for opportunities to increase profitability without significantly increasing your workload. This might involve improving your marketing, refining your product or service offerings or renegotiating contracts with suppliers to reduce costs.

4. Niche down
If you cater to a broad market, consider narrowing your focus to a niche audience. Specialisation can often lead to higher profit margins and reduced competition. By concentrating your efforts on a smaller, more dedicated customer base, you can maintain or increase your revenue while working fewer hours. Beware though, as a reduced client base could lead to a higher impact to your business if you lose one or more clients.

5. Implement sustainable growth strategies
If you wish to pursue a certain level of growth (just not the world domination level!), you can do so but in a sustainable manner. Set realistic growth targets that allow you to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Avoid aggressive expansion that could overwhelm you and your team. Prioritise steady, controlled growth over rapid expansion. You might find that you do want to continue growing your business, but in a way that works around you and your team.

6. Implement a four-day work week
Consider adopting a four-day work week, where you and your employees work longer hours for four days instead of the traditional five. This approach can lead to increased productivity and better work-life balance, as it provides an extra day off each week to recharge.

7. Redefine success
Challenge the conventional definition of success. It’s not solely about revenue, market share or growth rates. Success can also be measured by your personal well-being, the strength of your relationships and the fulfilment you derive from your work. Redefining success in this way allows you to prioritise your work-life balance without feeling like you’re sacrificing your achievements.

8. Implement time management techniques
Embrace time management techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique, time blocking or the Eisenhower Matrix to increase your productivity during work hours. By accomplishing more in less time, you can free up additional hours for leisure and relaxation.

9. Build a support system
Surround yourself with a support network of friends, family and mentors who understand and encourage your pursuit of a healthy work-life balance. Seek advice from experienced entrepreneurs who have successfully balanced business and personal life.

10. Regularly evaluate and adjust
Business and personal priorities can change over time. Regularly assess your work-life balance and adjust your strategies accordingly. Don’t be afraid to scale back or refocus your business efforts as needed to maintain the equilibrium you desire.

11. Invest in self-care
Prioritise self-care practices such as exercise, mindfulness and adequate sleep. A healthy body and mind are essential for managing the demands of entrepreneurship and maintaining a balanced life. Self-care tends to be the to-do on our list that gets sacrificed in favour of important business tasks. Try to add self-care to your work diary to ensure you see it as a priority too. Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s an absolute necessity if you want to offer both your business and personal life the best version of you (a happy and healthy one!).

12. Plan for the long term
Remember that a better work-life balance isn’t just a short-term goal. It’s a sustainable approach to building a successful and fulfilling life. Plan for the long term, making decisions that support your well-being and the well-being of your business and your employees.

How to put the brakes on growth

As well as championing ways to encourage a better work/life balance within your business, there are specific ways you can put the brakes on your business growth, such as:

  • Maintaining the status quo: Refrain from expanding operations or launching new products/services.
  • Limiting marketing efforts: Reduce advertising and promotional activities to attract fewer new customers.
  • Avoiding debt or investment: Refuse external funding and loans, preventing capital infusion for expansion.
  • Focus on retention: Concentrate on retaining existing customers rather than acquiring new ones.
  • Decrease staffing: Don’t hire additional employees and, if necessary, downsize gradually.
  • Reduce innovation: Cease research and development efforts and new product development, although you do need to ensure your existing products/services have adequate longevity and won’t become redundant in the longer term.
  • Sell assets: Liquidate excess assets or locations that contribute to growth.
  • Increase prices: Carefully raise prices to reduce demand.
  • Set growth thresholds: Establish clear limits on business size and stick to them.

Deliberate stagnation requires careful planning and monitoring to maintain stability while avoiding unwanted growth. If you’re looking to stop growing your business in favour of keeping things small, seek advice from a professional business advisor and an accountant. You need to make sure your decision to slow down is an informed one. If it’s not immediately possible, put a plan in place for scaling back if you’re looking for that better balance.

There are two kinds of growth, one where you grow stronger and one where you grow fat.

Yvon Chouinard Patagonia, Founder

Did the COVID-19 pandemic trigger a work/life balance reassessment in recent years?

The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on many people’s attitudes toward their work-life balance, in several ways:

  • Re-evaluation of priorities: The pandemic certainly reaffirmed to the world that life can be short and unpredictable. For many business owners, the disruptions caused by COVID-19 led to a re-evaluation of their priorities. Concerns about health, family and personal well-being became more prominent, causing some entrepreneurs to prioritise work-life balance over rapid business growth.
  • Remote work: The pandemic forced many businesses to adopt remote work arrangements, which in turn allowed business owners and employees to better balance work and life. The success of remote work for many businesses during the pandemic has prompted some business owners to consider more flexible work options in the long term.
  • Mental health awareness: The pandemic highlighted the importance of mental health and business owners, like many others, began to recognise the need to manage stress and avoid burnout. This awareness has led some to adopt more balanced approaches to running their businesses.
  • Employee well-being: Many business owners have also become more attuned to the well-being of their employees. Having sought ways to support their teams through uncertain times, they may be more inclined to consider work-life balance as an essential component of a healthy workplace culture.
  • Operational changes: COVID-19 forced businesses to adapt and pivot rapidly, which, in some cases, involved streamlining operations or temporarily scaling back. This experience may have shown business owners that it’s possible to maintain success with less growth-oriented pressure.

While COVID-19 accelerated the shift towards more flexible work arrangements and a focus on well-being, the extent to which individual business owners prioritise work-life balance still varies widely depending on factors such as industry, business size and personal circumstances. Nevertheless, the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly heightened the awareness of work-life balance as a critical consideration for business owners. (Life is short – it’s ok to want to enjoy a life outside of running a successful business.)

Example: Emma Warren – An independent embroidery brand

Gloucester-based business owner, Emma Warren, recently made the decision to scale back the expansion of her embroidery business in favour of a happier work/life balance. We caught up with Emma to hear more about how re-evaluating her business priorities led to a big change for the better:

“I found that the more my business grew, the more detached I started to feel. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s such a personal brand, and the more it grew the less personal it became… it just didn’t feel like me anymore?! That’s the only way I can describe it.

“I also never set out to have my own business, never had a business plan. It just kind of spiralled. I also think there is a lot online about how to strive for the next thing, to have big goals, what’s next but every year I felt like I don’t really have any goals and I felt quite bad for not having goals (but I’ve realised, actually, it’s ok!). If I’m enjoying my work, that’s the most important thing to me. Since moving back to my smaller home workshop and downscaling the team and workload, I feel so much lighter already. I feel like my brain can be filled with more creativity rather than worrying about what’s next / how to achieve sales targets, etc.

“I did find that it was only when I moved to the large fancy unit that people started taking me seriously as a business owner, which is strange because I really wasn’t happy and to me it was only a building.”

Emma shared her feelings about down-sizing with her social media followers, clarifying “I want to keep my small business small”. The post resonated with many followers, who appreciated her honesty around how small businesses need to meet your needs, and not the other way around.

A major benefit of owning a small business is that you can mould it to fit around your lifestyle. Entrepreneurship offers the flexibility to set your own schedule, pursue passions and achieve a work-life balance. You can adapt your business operations to align with your lifestyle choices, such as working from home, flexible hours or even involving family members. While the demands of entrepreneurship can be intense, the goal for many is to create a venture that complements and enhances their personal lives, providing both financial stability and personal fulfilment. What’s important is that you’re clear on both your personal and professional priorities and work back from there.

Share this content
Jenny Lambert

Jenny Lambert is a freelance writer, interiors blogger and Etsy shop owner with extensive experience working in marketing, digital and publishing roles.

Leave a Reply

Register with Informi today:

  • Join over 30,000 like-minded business professionals.
  • Create your own personalised account with curated reading lists and checklists.
  • Access exclusive resources including business plans, templates, and tax calculators.
  • Receive the latest business advice and insights from Informi.
  • Join in the discussion through the comments section.